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#How to Use Your Apple Watch’s Hidden Web Browser (and Why You Shouldn’t)

“How to Use Your Apple Watch’s Hidden Web Browser (and Why You Shouldn’t)”

A man using the Apple Watch on his wrist
raditya/Shutterstock.com

The Apple Watch might not feature Safari in its list of apps, but the browser is indeed there, just waiting to render web pages. While browsing your favorite websites from your wrist may seem convenient, some hurdles still exist.

Three Ways to Access the Apple Watch Browser

To access the Apple Watch browser, you’ll need to tap a link. There are three surefire ways of getting a link using stock apps within watchOS. There may be more if you use third-party apps, which you can install using the Watch app on your iPhone or on the Watch directly.

RELATED: How to Install Apps Directly on Your Apple Watch

1. Use Siri

The easiest way of launching the browser is to ask Siri to do it. To do this, press and hold the Digital Crown button to trigger Siri, then say “search for howtogeek.com” or whichever website you’d like to launch.

You may also be able to use “Hey, Siri” or simply raise your wrist to speak if you have these options enabled in your Apple Watch settings.

Ask Siri to search the web on Apple Watch

From here, Siri will perform a web search and offer you a list of websites. Tap “Open Page” to open a website in a browser overlay.

Search engines like Google, DuckDuckGo, and Bing allow you to undertake more in-depth browsing sessions, but often, searching for what you need directly is the easiest way to get where you want to go.

Opening a link via Siri search

2. Use Messages

While Siri is the most convenient method of launching the watchOS browser, you can also use Messages. All you need is a link to tap in a Messages conversation. If someone sends you a link, you can tap on it to launch the browser and take a look.

Tappable link in Messages for Apple Watch

To access a web page of your choice using this method, you’ll need to send yourself the link. This isn’t so bad if you have an Apple Watch Series 7 or later with a full wrist keyboard. Third-party messaging apps may also support this feature.

3. Use Mail

Finally, you can also tap on links within email messages. Just like the Messages method, this requires the presence of a link in an incoming email.

You can type (or dictate) and send a link via email. Once received, you can then tap the link to open the web page.

Tappable link in an email message on Apple Watch

Why You Should Avoid Browsing From Your Wrist

We found launching the browser via the Apple Watch imprecise and a bit inconvenient. And there are a few reasons why.

The Browser Is Impractical

To start, we experienced issues with rendering on our Series 4 Apple Watch. As you can see in the screenshot below of the How-To Geek homepage, the images haven’t appeared, and the alignment of some elements is off.

How-To Geek home page on an Apple Watch

While performing web searches using Siri is the best method to use, it still requires patience and some thoughtful search cues. For example, telling Siri to “search for wikipedia.com” opens an App Store link rather than Wikipedia.

Since Siri includes information from Wikipedia, saying “search for iPhone Wikipedia” doesn’t provide you with a link but a summary of the topic.

You must remember to say “search the web” for these queries, and even then you need to hope that Bing (which Siri uses) gets the right results.

Asking Siri to "search iphone wikipedia"

The other methods have even less utility since you must use precise web addresses. If you’re using an Apple Watch without a keyboard, you’ll have to use Apple’s “scribble” text input method, which frequently confuses the letter “o” with the numeral “0.” This can cause many “.com” links to fail.

The Mail and Messages methods can be made a little more practical by sending messages to yourself, but it’s still not the most pleasant way of browsing the web. Dictating a web address is fine, but if you’re using your voice, you’re better off using Siri.

Switching between Reader and Web View on Apple Watch

Performing more precise queries requires using a search engine as a jumping-off point, such as Google, DuckDuckGo, or Bing.

Sometimes pages will open in Reader view by default, which makes for a more useful reading experience at the cost of web page functionality. If this happens, tap the address bar to change to “Web View” instead.

Using a Browser on Your Wrist Is Uncomfortable

Using a browser on your wrist isn’t the most comfortable option. No watch was designed to be used for an extended length of time. You may experience physical discomfort from holding your wrist in an extended position. While short browsing sessions are doable, longer sessions may not be possible.

Third-Party watchOS Browser Apps Do Exist

If you’re serious about browsing the web on your Apple Watch, a third-party browser might be worth it to overcome some of the hurdles we discussed above.

Of the free Apple Watch browsers we tried, Parrity is the only option we would recommend. The browser renders a page separately, then sends a snapshot to your Apple Watch, so you don’t have as many issues with rendering as you do using the above methods.

Parrity web browser for Apple Watch

The app functions as you’d expect, allowing you to perform searches and enter web addresses just like in Safari.

The interface even makes a few accommodations, like providing shortcuts for common web address prefixes and suffixes like “www.” and “.com” to make things a little easier.

Parrity web browser for Apple Watch

It’s still a bit tedious to use on an Apple Watch model before the Series 7 because of the lack of a physical keyboard.

The “scribble” input method doesn’t work great for precise web addresses, and dictating URLs aloud isn’t going to suit everyone’s tastes.

Parrity web browser for Apple Watch

There are other paid Apple Watch browsers to choose from, including µBrowser and Squint Browser, but we wouldn’t recommend spending your money on these tools.

Leave the Browsing to Your Other Devices

Your other devices, such as your iPhone or iPad, are much better suited for browsing. Yet, there are still plenty of reasons to use an Apple Watch, whether you’re into outdoor pursuits like hiking, looking for motivation on your fitness journey, or want potentially life-saving features like heart health notifications or fall detection.

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